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The Teams Looking to Challenge Mayhem

Morning Chalk Up

July 29   |   POWERED BY


Happy Thursday Morning Chalk Up readers! We are moving quickly and there’s a lot to cover. The CrossFit Games are in full force, let’s go.

In today’s edition:

  • What you need to know going into day three.
  • Recap and highlights of day two.
  • Who needs to kick it into gear after a slow start at the Games.
  • Podium guide as you watch the teams take the floor.
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“Work hard in silence, let your success be the noise.” - Frank Ocean

  What You Need to Know Going Into Day Three 

What You Need to Know Going Into Day Three

It’s day three of the CrossFit Games. Individual athletes are on break, age group and adaptive divisions are in the home stretch and teams take the field for the first time.

While athletes are tackling the unknown and knowable, fans sleeping in the campgrounds got an equally unforeseen turn of events yesterday evening as they were told to evacuate by 10:00 PM due to 70 mile per hour winds forecasted throughout the evening. The Morning Chalk Up crew slept in the Coliseum with a hundred other friends in the first-ever CrossFit Games slumber party.

So if there are a few extra typos today you can call customer support at Grammarly and complain.

One big thing: After today, 20 divisions will have wrapped up between the age-group and adaptive athletes, and only three divisions remain. Individual men, women and teams will finish out the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games.

The weather is forecasted to be a high of 85F (29C) and a low of 59F (15C) in Madison, WI.

  • Follow our live blog to stay up to date with what’s going on around the arena.
  • Here’s how to follow all the individual athletes through their social media accounts.
  • Last but not least, if you’re in Madison, here are all the activities to get involved inside and outside the arena.

Leaderboard, End of Day One

  1. Brent Fikowski (322)| Tia-Clair Toomey (397)
  2. Justin Medeiros (313)|Haley Adams (340)
  3. Jonne Koski (310) | Kristin Holte (331)
  4. Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson (307) | Kristi Eramo-O’Connell (295)
  5. Patrick Vellner (288) | Danielle Brandon (286)
  6. Saxon Panchik (286) | Katrin Davidsdottir (283)
  7. Andre Houdet (265) | Amanda Barnhart (280)
  8. Lazar Dukic (256) | Laura Horvath (277)
  9. Guilherme Malheiros (251) | Brooke Wells (274)
  10. Samuel Cournoyer (250) | Mallory O’Brien (272)

Speed Reads: A few stories that came out yesterday to get you up to speed.

  • Event by event recap from day one of the CrossFit Games.
  • Yesterday’s Individual Event 1 began the day with a long swim and a longer kayak. Based on previous swim events, we had an idea of who’d fare well in the swimming portion but the big question was, who would be strong at the kayak? Analyst Brian Friend broke down where the top ten men and women finished at the end of the swim and where big shake-ups happened after the kayak.
  • It was a rough start for fan-favorite Patrick Vellner, but that didn’t last very long. After taking 35th in Event 1, he was able to make an incredible comeback and finish 7th overall for the day.
  • The teens keep proving they deserve to be here. Emmy Cary and Mallory O’Brien should put any question whether they belong on the field to rest, after an impressive day one for both these young ladies. The leaderboard shook out with Cary sitting in 14th and O’Brien in 10th. The most impressive moment though, O’Brien took home a first-place finish in the final event of the day.
  • Kari Pearce tests positive for COVID-19. Prior to the kick-off of Event 1 for individual athletes, Pearce announced she would no longer be competing in the CrossFit Games after testing positive for the virus. This comes just two days after her training partner, Bethany Shadburne and Masters athlete Dan Bailey also tested positive for COVID and withdrew from the competition.
  • Buttery Bro Limited edition Jorts: The Buttery Bros teamed up with Born Primitive and are showing off their quad gainz with a limited edition of jorts. What’s on them? You guessed it — pancakes, butter and some fun phrases. They don’t drop until mid-September but expect these to be a hot commodity once they hit the market.

Four videos worth watching:

  • Scott Panchik reflects on his last CrossFit Games. Earlier this week, nine-time Games veteran Scott Panchik announced he would be retiring after the competition. “It makes you feel joyful, it makes you appreciate each event. The fans, the judges, the community, the atmosphere…I’m going to soak it up all weekend long.”
  • Highlights from Individual Event 1, swimming and kayaking.
  • Highlights from individual Event 2, sled-pull, pig flip and muscle-ups.
  • 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games day 2 press conference.
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Vellner Takes First $10,000 Bonus Prize

Vellner Takes First $10,000 Bonus Prize

Reebok’s Pat Vellner is clearly not playing games this year with a dominant first place finish in Event Two on the first day of competition

  • Bonus Fact: Vellner’s win makes him the first athlete this year to secure the $10,000 Reebok Bonus Program prize money payout for an event win.

Check out what got him across the finish line.

  What You Need to Know Going Into Day Three 

Workouts, Schedule and How to Watch

Year after year, international women and American men have largely dominated the podium, and especially the top spot, at the CrossFit Games. But if Day 1 is any indication of how things might finish this year, then we might just see this trend come to an end on Sunday in Madison, WI.

The details: After Day 1 of individual competition, eight out of the current top ten men and four of the top five, all of whom still arguably have a chance to finish on the podium, are international athletes representing six different countries outside of the United States. In comparison, last year four of the top five men were from the United states. And in fact, the last time an international man won the CrossFit Games was Mikko Salo from Finland in 2009. 

  • The norm is reversed on the women’s side. After Day 1, three of the top five spots are taken up by Americans. In comparison, only one American finished in the top five in 2016, 2018 and 2019, and zero in 2017.

One big thing: The teen division podium has also historically been dominated by Americans. In fact, in 2018, 11 out of the 12 teen podium finishers were Americans. But with one day of competition to go, it’s looking good for a handful of athletes to buck this trend, as there is currently at least one international competitor sitting in a podium spot in each division. 

  • Gustavo Pusch of Brazil sits in third in the Boys 14-15 year-old division, while Lucy McGonigle of the UK is in third in the Girls 14-15 year-old division.
  • Meanwhile, in the Girls 16-17 year-old division, Canadian Emma Lawson, who has all but dominated the competition, sits in the top spot, and Hiko O Te Rangi Curtis of New Zealand is in third on the boys side, with an athlete from Austria in 4th and an athlete from Iceland in 5th.

The big picture: Though there’s still a lot of competition to go this weekend in Madison, if these international athletes continue on the path they’re on, we could see a number of international flags on the podium on Sunday, which has the potential to bode well for CrossFit LLC owner Eric Roza’s prediction that eventually 80 to 90 percent of CrossFit affiliates will be outside the United States.


48: The number of muscle-ups individual athletes actually completed in Event 2 instead of the 42 that were originally announced, making it the most muscle-ups ever programmed in a single CrossFit Games event.

1 minute, 55 seconds: Tia-Clair Toomey finished nearly two minutes faster than second place Emma McQuaid, and it was in an event with a 12-minute time cap.

17: The age of Mal O’Brien. She made history today as the youngest woman to ever win an event at the CrossFit Games. O’Brien also made history earlier this season by being one of only two teenage division athletes to qualify for the Games through a live qualifying event.

  Four Takeaways From Day 2 of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games 

Four Takeaways From Day 2 of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games

Day 2 of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games was a hectic full day affair as every division except for the teams competed on a balmy Wednesday at Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI. Here are four takeaways from the opening day of the Games.

  1. We have a race: There are many compelling races for a title across the many age group divisions but none closer than that in the highly competitive 35-39 men’s and the 50-54 women’s divisions. For the men, Game’s veterans Kyle Kasperbauer and Adrian Conway are separated by just five points in the standings. Two time division champ Kasperbauer saw his 35 point lead from day 1 all but disappear as division newcomer Conway collected a runner-up finish and two 4th place finishes to make for an interesting final day of competition on Thursday. As close as that race is the women’s race between Laurie Meschishnick and Joanne McCullough is knotted up at 330 points apiece. Meschishnick, the defending champion for the division, holds the tiebreaker currently thanks to her third place finish in the opening event. 56-year-old Games rookie McCullough is looking to take the crown from the seven-time Games athlete.
  2. Cohen’s dominance: No other athlete throughout any division has dominated in the way that 27-year-old Valerie Cohen has. Through five events, she has a 115 point lead over her next closest competitor in the Women’s Lower Extremity division. The former Ithaca College gymnast suffered torn achilles that not only ended her career but also led to a debilitating injury on that same ankle that would eventually leave it non-functional. After four event wins and a third place finish in two days she’s just one day away from being called a champion.
  3. The next “Young Gun” from the boys division: Most of the discussion this season has been about the teenage girls division and how they have produced more individual Games athletes. Nate Ackermann could be the athlete who breaks through and brings attention to the boys division. The 17-year-old has been consistent throughout the two days of competition placing no worse than seventh and has four second place finishes including in all three of the events on Wednesday. He holds a 45-point lead heading into the final day of competition.
  4. American woman making another push to the podium: Last season the United States broke the streak of absent podium finishers thanks to Kari Pearce’s third place finish. With Pearce and Bethany Shadburne both having to withdraw due to COVID-19 positive tests prior to today’s individual competition the chances of the US repeating their podium finish looked bleak. After day 1 that doesn’t seem to be the case as six women occupy the top-ten spots after four events. 20-year-old Haley Adams leads that group, currently sitting in second place. Last Chance Qualifier Kristi Eramo-O’Connell is in 4th followed by Pearce and Shadburne’s Underdogs Athletics teammate Danielle Brandon in 5th. With 11 events still to go there is still plenty of shifting that will happen but as of today the US women’s contingent looks strong to repeat their podium finish.
  Four Individual Athletes Who Need to Make Some Moves Heading Into Friday 

Four Individual Athletes Who Need to Make Some Moves Heading Into Friday

Several individual athletes impressed spectators on day one, including Jonne Koski, Brent Fikowski, Justin Medeiros, and Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson. Others, however, struggled early and put themselves in a dangerous position, especially with cuts looming.

  • Follow our live blog to stay up to date with what’s going on around the arena.

Who we’re watching: Noah Ohlsen entered the season as one of the contenders for the title of Fittest Man on Earth. He took second during 2019, a career-best finish, and then finished 5th during the COVID-altered Games at The Ranch in Aromas. Ohlsen’s worst finish was 21st in Event 2, but he didn’t fight for event wins like he has in past seasons.

  • Ohlsen started the day with a 17th place finish in Event 1. He finished his one-mile swim inside the top 10 but he moved back in the pack during the three-mile kayak paddle while Jonne Koski locked up the event win.
  • Ohlsen improved over the final two events of the first day. He posted the 11th fastest time during the 550-yard sprint and then took 6th in Event 4. Ohlsen left the Coliseum in 11th place and needed to make some moves to get back into contention.

Kara Saunders entered the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games as a fan-favorite pick to win her first gold medal. She missed the cut during Stage 1 of the 2020 CrossFit Games but still finished 8th overall in her return to competition after giving birth to her first child. Saunders then dominated during the Torian Pro Semifinals event with three wins and six top five finishes overall.

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  Podium Guide: Which Teams Could Challenge Mayhem Freedom 

Podium Guide: Which Teams Could Challenge Mayhem Freedom

Death, taxes and Rich Froning on top of a podium. That seems to be the case when it comes to the CrossFit Games. Froning has won an unprecedented eight Games titles including four with his team, Mayhem Freedom. A second place finish with his team in 2017 is the only blemish on that record since winning his first title as an individual in 2011.

Despite a change in the team division this year that all but eliminated the “Super Teams” that had dominated the division the last three years, Froning has put together what could be perhaps his best team to date. With the division being more “affiliate-based,” the disparity between Mayhem and other teams has increased. The addition of Games veterans Andrea Nisler and Taylor Williamson has made the team seemingly unstoppable in Froning’s path to his ninth title.

Here are five teams we think will put up a fight against Mayhem and contend for podium spots.

  1. Omnia: The Denver-based team won by 89 points at the Granite Games in a team field that was considered the toughest out of all of the North American Semifinals. They didn’t have a finish worse than 6th place and collected two event wins. Daniel Bullock is the veteran of the squad, having appeared at the Games in 2018 with Omnia. MaryKay Dreisilker competed at the 2018 Central Regional and just missed out on an individual Games berth in 2020 when she placed 35th in the worldwide Open. Elisa Schauer had back-to-back team Regional appearances in 2017 and 2018 with CrossFit Sanitas. Cooper Wise competed as an individual at the 2017 South Regional.
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